The City of Kathmandu
March 24 – 9 April 

Today the storied, mythical city and timeless valley is hosting its first triennale. The Kathmandu Triennale 2017 (KT 2017) is a non-commercial, mega art event organized by Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) to promote Nepali arts and culture. The event presents contemporary and traditional art by Nepali and international artists on particular edition themes. It has developed programming and outreach activities to explore the instructional potential and education goals of the arts. The inaugural edition of this 2017 Kathmandu Triennale carries the theme “ My City, My Studio/ My City, My Life ; with the city as primary inspiration. Curated by Philippe Van Cauteren in association with Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst

( S.M.A.K.) of Gent, Belgium; the theme is a particularly relevant point of departure for artists to address a wide range of issues facing the rapidly developing city of Kathmandu today.

The two main components of KT 2017 are: Exhibitions and Encounters. Exhibitions will include all visual content while Encounters will consolidate the educational outreach component through workshops, lectures, masterclasses, and symposiums; built on the production and presentation of exhibits. KT 2017 will use multiple venues across the cities of Kathmandu and Patan. It will also host outreach events in public spaces and incorporate collateral events created by partners in its overall program. More than 50 artists have been invited by the curator, SAF, and partners to contribute to the event.

Goals and Objectives

Riding on the  past successes of the historic Kathmandu International Art Festivals held in 2009 and 2012, the KT 2017’s mission is to engage, strengthen, and further create more global awareness for the national art scene through in-depth exchanges between Nepali and international artists, curators, experts and institutions. To ensure that these goals are aided with support from the public and private sectors, the presentation of KT 2017 has been designed to promote ownership of the event among relevant local stakeholders.

By engaging the community, lasting relationships are formed among  artists, galleries, cultural insititutions, business enterprises, and schools. Stakeholders will share in the prestige and mutually beneficial effects of a global art event.


Shaping a Vision

KT 2017 Team is fundraising with local businesses, international NGOs, foundations and private donors to cover the finances and logistics of the event. Although strategic plans are in place to engage particular segments, the primary audience of the event is diverse and extensive.

Marketing and promotional activities for KT 2017 will be implemented with Telecommunication Partner: Ncell; Tourism Partner: Nepal Tourism Board and App Partner My City Pulse. Partners associated with the programming and production will also be contributing to these promotional efforts.

KT 2017 expects to reach 500,000 people. Funding for KT 2017 is invested directly into the local economy while realizing contemporary cultural capital that can add to the amenities boasted by Kathmandu. It is expected to bring extensive international attention to the contemporary art and cultural practices of the country and is the only free and large scale cultural event of the spring (tourist) season. As a platform, KT 2017 offers benefits to supporting institutions and individuals. Each party is enrolled through mutually beneficial and long-term partnerships grounded in the convergence of a common agenda and goals.

From Festival to Triennale

The change from Festival to Triennale reaffirms SAF’s commitment and vision to give rise to a distinguished Nepali voice in global arts arena through consistent and critical programs.

The re-articulated logo (the gajur) is a fitting embodiment of this goal. The instrument is believed to facilitate the ascension of gods from earthly temples to the heavens. KT too, hopes to be the stepping stone for Nepali arts to reach its pinnacle.

The new format is built on the strengths of the past festivals with revisions to prioritize impact. SAF has adapted the accepted pavilion format of biennale events to create a synergistic approach. By inviting other curatorial projects to the event, SAF is now able to extend event scope without putting a strain on its financial goals. This means more exhibitions and programming, more perspectives and more engagement with the event’s thematic reflections.

KT 2017 Exhibitions

Exhibitions will be held between 24 March and 9 April, 2017, at multiple venues across the Valley. The central exhibition : The City, My Studio / The City, My Life, directed by curator Philippe Van Cauteren, will feature a Historical Perspective showcasing Nepali art history and a Children-Specific section.

Exhibitions will feature over 50 artists presenting new as well as existing ones. Taragaon Museum, Hyatt Regency, Boudha; Patan Museum Complex, Managalbazar; Nepal Art Council and Siddhartha Art Gallery, Babarmahal; Francaise Alliance, Jwalakhel are some of the official venues of the event.

Additional Curated Showcases will be held alongside the central exhibition to present multiple world-perspectives on the theme of the city. These presentations are being organized by institutional partners and curators independently with support from KT 2017 as a local partner.

KT 2017  as Catalyst

Globally, urbanization is a challenge various nations and communities are facing. Cities, all over the world parallel stories of struggle and a search for a better life. They are  melting pots where backgrounds clash and common grounds are shaped. They are focal points of intellectual and cultural activities, yet even with their abundance of opportunities, the city is still an embodiment of human achievement and its accompanying ills.

Kathmandu–also home to diverse international communities, is regarded as one of the fastest growing cities in one of the least developed countries of the world. The Valley has become unrecognizable in a short period of time. This development presents  a rare opportunity to reflect changes affecting the city and at the same time preserve its natural and historical identity, as it evolves and embraces change.

Since antiquity, Kathmandu has been at the crossroads of travel and commerce affording it unrivaled diversity nurtured by communal harmony. More recently, its residents have provided sanctuary to refugees from different countries. At the same time, refugees representing diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, have integrated and adjusted to the Nepalese way of life. During this transition, their artistic skills and many talents have contributed to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the city.

As various communities find their way in the urban landscape, their new home, artists reflect on the changes brought by the effects of their displacement, migration and urbanization. Through KT 2017, artists will use Kathmandu as a catalyst to outline issues of assimilation, social pressures, the fragility of normative existence and, ultimately, solidarity and the triumph of the human spirit. Major issues such as those of refugee communities, migration, human rights, environmental degradation, pollution, socio-economic disparity, vernacular culture, gender and politics will be addressed.

KT 2017 Artists Selection

The City: My Studio/ The City: My Life will include over 50 artists with a considerable percentage representing Nepal. The roster has been selected by curator Philippe Van Cauteren to represent an inclusive list of established and younger artists today.

International selections have been based on the artists capacity to develop their work in Kathmandu within a time frame of almost 10 days prior to the exhibition and also on their commitment to engage in capacity building for Nepal’s art scene. Although not decisive, these two considerations through the dialogue and exchange between the Nepali art community and visiting artists will contribute to the dynamism of the whole exhibition.

An important factor in the selection of the artists is that they have the capacity to “transform almost nothing” into a valid artistic proposition. The Nepali selection was made through a semi-open call held in June 2016. Portfolios of more than 50 artists were collected and presented to the curator in Kathmandu. Also to be represented are Nepali Diaspora artists.

Public and Gala Events

All exhibitions of KT 2017 will open in March 2017.

Several programs will be held as outreach activities for public engagements. These will include: collateral events with partners, venue-based guided tours, workshops for artists, performances and art happenings by national and international artists and art groups, as well as art interventions, and projection mappings.

To celebrate art and the city and forge collaborations between  artists and the community, KT will also be hosting public gala events in different venues during the opening week of March 24  to March 30.